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Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2007

Faith Forum: Does God make mistakes?

February 10, 2007

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Our minds can't grasp mystery of creation

Charles Gruber, member, Oread Friends Meeting, 1146 Ore.:

When John Denver asked George Burns (who was playing God) whether he made mistakes, Burns answered, "Well, maybe with the avocado pit. A little too large, I think." Ask a Kansan that question, and he or she starts scratching and suggests, without hesitation, chiggers.

On the surface, it's a dumb question. I know that under the surface, it genuinely troubles some people. The realities of genocide, global warming, child molestation or losing a loved one to disease can shake the deepest faith.

I choose to approach uncertainty by appreciating the mystery of creation rather than demanding that my mind must comprehend the genesis and impact of how it all works. Because the mystery holds the entirety of human experience from before the beginning to after the end, I know I cannot hope to understand the intricacies of how it could have all have been destiny in action. Neither can my heart handle the possibility of complete chance.

What's left is what the Zen Buddhists call "don't know mind." This is a way of approaching the mystery with a genuine acceptance that I cannot know the inner construction, planning and motivation of the universe.

When I can accept that it is all beyond me, then I can relax my intense need to know whether there are mistakes or whether it's all planned that way. I can let go of my arrogant insistence that any of it is knowable to my puny mind. I can put down the issue of cosmic mistakes. I can allow chiggers to chew on me if they must. And I will continue to cover myself with sulfur powder, bug spray and any other mythopoetic prevention because, though I don't know if chiggers are a mistake or not, I just plain don't like 'em.

- Send e-mail to Charles Gruber at cgruber@cgruber.com.

God works for good of those who love him

The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:

There is a gospel song that says, "God is good all the time." This song illustrates the truth found in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Not everything is good, but God works for the good of those who have responded to his voice.

If God is good, then why are young boys kidnapped and held hostage? Why do innocent babies die in war? Are these mistakes on God's part?

Some potential solutions to the dilemma exist. First, we have free will as humans, and often we exercise it in an evil way. Second, we also know that what we think is "bad" may in fact be "good." (Example: In college, I was sad when my relationship with a young lady ended - but later it was a good thing when I met my wife.) Third, some gain consolation in the fact that those things that seem to be "mistakes of God" bring about incredible character development.

However, beyond all these helpful suggestions, the dilemma still lurks. Is God really all-powerful? Is God really good? The answer lies in the cross of Jesus Christ. For those who choose to embrace the message of the cross, both questions are answered "yes!"

God is good - good enough to extend his love to humanity by reconciling us to our Heavenly Father through the cross. God is powerful - powerful enough to defeat death and raise from the dead.

God is good all the time. When I can't understand his ways, I cling to the message of his cross.

- Send e-mail to Nate Rovenstine at jnrovenstine@sunflower.com.

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